Jags claim troubled tackle Hunter off waivers

Updated: May 22, 2006, 11:59 AM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Former third-round offensive tackle Wayne Hunter, a three-year veteran released by the Seattle Seahawks last week after being charged for his alleged role in a fracas at a sports bar, has been claimed on waivers by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Wayne Hunter
Hunter

Hunter, 24, becomes the third high-round offensive lineman added by the Jaguars this spring via either free agency or waivers. Tackles Mike Williams and Stockar McDougle, former first-round choices of Buffalo (in 2002) and Detroit (2000), respectively, were signed earlier in the offseason. Hunter figures to battle them for a backup spot behind starters Khalif Barnes and Maurice Williams.

The Jaguars, who lost four-year veteran tackle Mike Pearson, a former starter, in free agency, are hoping to upgrade their depth at the position.

A player whose career was marked by disappointment on and off the field, Hunter was jettisoned by the Seahawks after being charged with fourth-degree assault and third-degree malicious mischief stemming from a May 13 incident. Hunter faces a Wednesday arraignment in Renton, Wash., on the charges.

The incident, in which Hunter is alleged to have slammed a customer at the bar into a shuffleboard table, is the latest in a string of off-field problems for the once-promising offensive lineman. Seahawks officials have cautioned Hunter in the past that another misstep might jeopardize his career.

Hunter was suspended by the NFL for the 2004 season opener, and then for another game late last December, both in connection with domestic abuse incident involving his girlfriend in the summer of 2003. The league also fined Hunter one additional game-check last year for the same incident.

A former University of Hawaii star, Hunter was one of the fastest rising prospects in the weeks preceding the 2003 draft, when he had strong workouts for scouts from several teams. Seattle chose Hunter in the third round of that draft and signed him to a three-year, $1.43 million contract which included a signing bonus of $520,000.

Despite playing in just one game his first two seasons, Hunter went to camp last summer vying for the starting job at right tackle. But he lost the competition to Sean Locklear, who started all 16 games, and also in three playoffs games as the Seahawks advanced to Super Bowl XL. Hunter appeared in only one game in 2005 and in just two contests during his three seasons with the team.

Seattle re-signed Hunter this spring to the one-year restricted free agent qualifying offer of $721,600. The Jaguars now assume that contract but have virtually no financial risk, assuming Hunter is not injured, since there is no signing bonus involved in inheriting the deal.

The Jaguars on Monday also signed free agent punter Toby Gowin, a nine-year veteran, to an undisclosed contract. Gowin, 31, was not in the league in 2005.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.

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